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Injury Due Solely to Removal of Soil Support

Generally, the property right to lateral support extends to the land alone and not to the buildings erected on the land.  However, one may recover for damage to a building on the land as a natural and probable consequence of the loss of lateral support if it can be shown that the subsidence would have occurred even if the injured party did not have a building on the premises.  Damages for injury to the building may be included in the recovery when the land of the adjoining owner falls of its own weight injuring a building located on the property by removal of lateral support.  The right of lateral support is the right that the soil in its natural state has to support from land adjoining it.  This right applies only to land in its natural state.  Lateral support right of an adjoining property exists only to the extend of requiring support for his land in its natural state from his neighbor’s land in its natural state.

As per the findings in Prete v. Cray, 49 R.I. 209, 141 A. 609, 59 A.L.R. 1241 (1928), an adjoining landowner who by making an excavation takes away the lateral support of his neighbor’s ground causing it to fall, slide or break away by its own weight, is liable for the injury regardless of how carefully he excavated.  The injured landowner may maintain an action for damages without proving negligence on the part of the adjoining owner.

Inside Injury Due Solely to Removal of Soil Support